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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter

Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Pounders, Chris --- "Europe's Telecommunications Privacy Directive" [1996] PrivLawPRpr 63; (1996) 3(7) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 132


In August 1996 the European Union (EU) published the common position `concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector, in particular in the integrated services digital network (ISDN) and in the public digital mobile networks' (Official Journal of the European Communities, No C 315, 24 October 1996, p 30).

Its objective is to augment the main Data Protection Directive (EU 95/46/EC) with specific provisions to protect the privacy of those individuals who use information services via a public telecommunications network. Member states are expected to implement this new Directive so that it comes into effect at the same time as the main Directive (that is, by 23 October 1998).

From a privacy perspective, the main features the new directive include:

Many controversial issues (for example, telephone tapping) cannot be addressed by this Directive since EU Directives cannot relate to policing or national security matters. Member states are thus left to determine the conditions under which telecommunications data can be used by, or disclosed to, such agencies.

Related matters

Another useful reference for interested readers is Recommendation R(95) 4 from the Council of Europe entitled `The protection of personal data in the area of telecommunications services with particular reference to telephone services' (ISBN 9-28-712895-2).

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has told the telecommunications companies in Eire that if a subscriber is ex-directory they must start from the assumption that CLI is blocked on a per line basis. In the UK, this was not the case. Those who were ex-directory had default of CLI to be displayed (many to this day are unaware of this).

Chris Pounder, Editor, Data Protection News, e-mail

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